Lyrrel takes the group of five up more stairs. Occasionally he leads them down long hallways past many rooms. In one they see a group of men and women in cloaks meditating in silence. In another, a group of children study thick books and speak with the cloaked woman at the front of the room.
Reaching the top of the final set of stairs, the only room located on the final floor is behind a set of large, silver double doors. Lyrrel opens the large doors with ease and the group enters the circular room.
The ceiling is made entirely of glass, allowing sunlight to fill the room, but it is a bluish light as the sun’s rays shine through the large blue stone making up the tops of the tower. Opposite the double doors sits an elegant chair, behind which is a large balcony overlooking the city.
At the center of the room is a U-shaped table with the opening of the U facing the elegant chair. Other chairs are placed around the table and sitting inside the table is a clear stone standing almost two men high, glowing with the light from above.
Standing on the balcony, his eyes moving lovingly over his city, is Wynsil. Lyrrel crosses the room quickly and stands at the door to the balcony. He speaks to Wynsil in a hushed voice and the two turn to face the group.
Ime, Meah, Jaxon, Kylii, and Daniil walk slowly forward. Meah’s eyes glance at the stone at the center of the room and a strange vibration moves through her body. She shudders and moves closer to Ime.
Wynsil enters the room and sits in the elegant chair. Lyrrel stands to his side, his hands resting at his sides.
“You all look well-fed and clean. Come closer so we may talk normally,” Wynsil calls from across the room. He doesn’t need to strain his voice. The shape of the room allows his voice to reach the opposite end of the room clearly, but the distance makes conversations feel strained.
As the five move closer to Wynsil, cloaked men and women appear seemingly from nowhere and place chairs before Wynsil for them to sit. The group does and the men and women disappear.
“Thank you for showing us such generosity and providing food, supplies, and places to rest, but how did you know we would be coming?” Ime asks.
“And how do you know about us?” Meah asks leaning forward, curiously.
Wynsil smiles. “We foresaw your arrival many weeks ago.” He holds a hand out to Lyrrel. “Our Seers are very skilled.”
Jaxon moves to the edge of his seat, his expression darkening. “Seers, you mean those who can see into the future.”
“Yes. They can see things that will be long before they come to pass. They have seen your futures and know what will be. They have also seen your pasts and learned secrets about you that even you do not know.”
Daniil and Kylii eye each other, fear filling their expressions. Ime and Jaxon tense at Wynsil’s words, their breaths catching in their throats.
Meah is the only one who stays relaxed, meeting Wynsil’s eyes with an expression of wonder and curiosity. “You say you’ve seen our futures. Does that mean you know whether or not we will be successful in defeating Blood King Klaeon?”
“Our Seers have seen the outcome of your efforts. Though what that may be I do not know. There are some things that should be kept a surprise.”
“So you are not a Seer yourself?” Jaxon asks.
“No, the ruler of Eraunel shall never be a Seer. It’s normal that as a Seer ages his or her mind deteriorates with each vision until they succumb to complete madness. We have yet been able to figure out a way to stop it from happening. Until then, only one of no magic may rule to prevent chaos.”
“What do you do when a Seer begins showing sign of this madness?” Daniil asks.
“That is private business between Seers,” Lyrrel answers. “And that is all that will be spoken of the matter.”
Wynsil turns his head slightly, a somber expression on his face. “There are few things we won’t share with you if asked, but that is one thing we kindly ask you do not inquire about. It’s a painful subject.”
“Are all magic users of this city Seers?” Jaxon asks, steering the conversation towards something lighter.
“That is correct. Our ancestors fled into this forest for protection many centuries ago. A ruthless ruler went on a rampage, killing many in the north. They learned to live off the forest’s many resources while being careful not to disrupt the beasts and plant life. Several generations passed before the first Seer was born and learned the truth of his magic.”
Meah places a hand on her silk bracelet. “The truth of his magic?”
“The forest gives us our magic and in return we protect it from the threat of others. Those who enter the forest with intent to harm it are quickly taken care of.”
Wynsil motions towards the clear stone behind the group. “That is a Spirit Stone taken from the most sacred of grounds in the forest. Boosting their magic, it allows our Seers to inhabit the spirits of the forest and chase any who would do it harm away. It also allows us to watch those who enter the forest without their awareness.”
“Is that how you knew to blow those horns of yours?” Jaxon asks.
“We knew about your group arriving in our forest for many days, but when we finally saw you we figured you needed the rest from your ordeal in the caves before making your way to Eraunel. I also determined following the sounds of horns would be a little less threatening than men suddenly appearing around you or voices in the trees urging you through the forest.”
“Why are you helping us?” Kylii demands. Daniil hits him. “Ow! I’m just curious! You said you’ve seen our pasts. How do you know you can trust us?”
“Because we are meant to help you. Because you are the only ones who can stop the great evil growing in this land.”
Confusion grows in Ime, making him shift in his seat. “Great evil?”
“The one you call Blood King.”
“Blood King Klaeon doesn’t seem to have any power over this forest or the lands beyond and never shown any indication of wanting to stretch his power further than what he has already,” Jaxon explains. “He seems quite content with the size of the land he’s acquired in the past thirty odd years.”
Wynsil’s green eyes lock onto Meah and her breath catches in her throat. “Because of me?” her voice is tiny.
Nodding his head slowly, Wynsil stands. “Life Healers are rare for a reason, Meah. In ancient times they were used to turn the tides of wars. Ultimately they were exterminated due to people’s fears. You are possibly the last Life Healer and that means you could potentially give birth to more.”
“But why would he care about that?”
“It is ingrained in his blood. To understand why, you must first understand where he came from.”
Jaxon crosses his arms across his chest and shakes his head. “No one knows where he came from. Most stories claim he came from a tiny village in the Karrion Desert, but when his magic revealed itself he destroyed the village and disappeared deep into the desert. He reappeared with an army and began taking over the land.”
“A nice story to keep the truth away.” Wynsil nods at Lyrrel.
Lyrrel pulls a parchment from his pocket and crosses to Ime. He hands him the paper and Ime takes it, confused. “What is this?”
“The true story of the Blood King is hard to find, unless one knows where to look.” A smile fills Wynsil’s face and he winks at Jaxon. Jaxon looks away, leaning close to Ime to observe the parchment.
Ime unravels the paper and his eyes move over the contents curiously. A drawing of a strange village fills the page. The buildings are windowless and constructed oddly, as though purposefully built to look constantly at a slant. At the center of the village is a dark spot, a large hole. No buildings are built too close to the hole and even though it is only a drawing, something about it is strange.
Lowering the parchment, Ime returns his gaze to Wynsil. “I don’t understand.”
“The Blood King is not from your lands. He is from ours. To be more precise, our lands much farther to the west. His village, depicted in that drawing by one of our Seers, is located in a vastly different forest, one of dark spirits.” Wynsil pauses and takes a deep breath. “Do you know why Blood magic is forbidden?”
The group collectively shakes their heads.
“It is forbidden because it is an unnatural magic. One is not born with it inside them. You must earn it through a dark ritual. Those who dwell in that village choose one child each generation to bestow the magic upon. Normally the child would then become the ruler of the village, but Klaeon left. He wanted more than to rule one insignificant village. He travelled to your lands because he heard of the many different kinds of magic found there, but mainly for the rare kinds and their powerful magic. He used his forbidden magic to gain an army and took over.”
“But what does that have to do with me or Life Healers?” Meah asks.
“It all has to do with the dark ritual used to give him his magic. It is an ancient magic that stretches back to the time of many wars. The only ones who can counteract that magic are Life Healers. You are the only one who can return him to a normal human. You are the only one who can take his magic away.”